Kobe Bryant also has concussion
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- In addition to a broken nose, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant suffered a concussion in the third quarter of the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday when Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade fouled Bryant across the face.
The 16-year veteran visited Dr. John Rehm, an ear, nose and throat specialist, on Tuesday morning where his nasal fracture was confirmed. Bryant was experiencing other symptoms related to the nose injury and was sent to neurologist Dr. Vern Williams, who diagnosed the concussion.
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The team said Bryant will be re-evaluated by Dr. Williams on Wednesday, and that his status is day to day. The Lakers host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
The NBA enacted a new concussion policy prior to the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. Any player diagnosed with a concussion will have to complete a series of tests to confirm he is healthy enough to return to game action. Once a player is free of symptoms related to the concussion, he must pass a series of physical challenges with increasing stages of exertion -- from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills -- while ensuring the symptoms don't return after each one. Before the player is ultimately cleared, the neurologist hired to lead the NBA's concussion program must be consulted. In Bryant's case, Dr. Williams will have to confer with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan, who is the inaugural director of the NBA's concussion program.
Wade said Tuesday that he sent a message of apology to Bryant.
"It's all I can do," Wade said of the message to Kobe. "He knows it's no ill intent of me to do that to him. Talk about me for taking the foul, but I never wanted that kind of outcome."
Bryant's teammates weren't exactly in a forgiving mood and questioned the motivation behind Wade's foul.
"It was an All-Star Game," said Andrew Bynum, who was on the Western Conference All-Star's bench in Orlando at the time of the foul. "I don't understand what that was all about. It was crazy."
Added Pau Gasol: "I think it was out of place, out of line, for the moment and the game that it was, but I don't think he intended to break his nose. He just fouled him kind of hard there and got his nose. But again, I don't think it was the place to foul like that."
Gasol was confident that Bryant would play against Minnesota despite the fact that the 14-time All-Star was not present at practice.
"No concerns," Gasol said before Bryant was diagnosed with a concussion. "We always expect him to be out there. I don't think a broken nose will keep him from playing."
Bryant played in all 34 of the Lakers' games this season prior to the All-Star break after tearing a ligament in his right (shooting) wrist during the preseason.
Prior to the concussion being diagnosed, Lakers coach Mike Brown said he wouldn't wager an opinion about his star guard's availability against the Timberwolves.
"I don't know what the nose injury entails," Brown said. "I know he's tough as nails and he plays through a lot of stuff, but I can't speculate about what's going on right now."
Brown said that Bryant reported dizziness following Sunday's All-Star Game, according to Lakers trainer Gary Vitti. Still, Brown said he is preparing for the Minnesota game as if Bryant would be in the lineup.
"We'll be prepared either way," Brown said.
In a move perhaps motivated by the possibility of Bryant being unavailable to play, Devin Ebanks, who began the season as the Lakers' starting small forward, was recalled from the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers' D-League affiliate on Tuesday and practiced with the team. Ebanks averaged 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals while shooting 55.3 percent from the field in three games with the D-Fenders.
While Bynum only played six minutes in the All-Star Game because of an injection he received in his right knee on Friday limited his action, it ended up being Bryant getting injured.
"That's the fear of the stuff in the summer time, playing with the USA Basketball team or playing in All-Star Games," Brown said. "You always want your guys to rest and not have an opportunity to get hurt, but you play in games like that, you play with different teams and, knock on wood, it could happen."
The Heat are set to take on the Lakers on Sunday, but Wade said the foul won't change his preparation for it.
"It adds to the storyline, but it won't change my approach to the game," Wade said. "From the standpoint of coverage and media attention? Yeah, it makes it interesting."
Wade's star teammate LeBron James agreed that the foul would add some extra drama to Sunday's game, but he didn't expect Bryant to feed of it.
"I think it's extra," James said. "D-Wade didn't at all go for a hard foul, he accidently hit him in the nose. Kobe doesn't need extra motivation. He motivates himself. He's always prepared to play, especially when we go against him."
Brown would not touch the issue of Wade's foul on Bryant having any impact on Sunday's game.
"I don't know," Brown said. "Your guess is as good as mine."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh was used in this report.